I was Amelia Earhart (Jane Mendelsohn)

I can read a lot, find little bits of interest in a story and have inspiration to carry on. This story, although cleverly written just isn’t one I’d want to re-read.

This short (150 or so pages) novel is a ficticious idea of how Amelia Earharts final flight may have ended. Ficticious is the key word, don’t expect a history lesson here. The fiction part is fine, the lack of historic detail is what I found tedious. The lack of detail is actually a part of the style. It’s written as if it’s Amelia herself writing notes in a journal. It flips from first person to third person, stunted short sentences throughout and detail frequently missed. It gave me the impression it wasn’t researched quite well enough but perhaps that was a side effect of the style. For example, Amelia and her navigator crash their twin engined aircraft onto an island. The island is described as having a coral reef flat around it, and it’s that on which they landed. In fact, the whole landing part was missed out and their plane appeared to have landed well enough to be able to take off again later in the story. For some reason, although they would wade out to the aeroplane it was never affected by the tide. The navigator made a device to convert salt water into drinkable water, but the device was never described. I guess an evaporator of some sorts but solar or above a fire? Perhaps the lack of detail was purely because of the writing style the author chose, in my own notes I take a lot of things for granted too.

I’m not sad that I read the story but should I ever get Rootie Ratings going, this would get 1 out of 5 (thinking zero would mean I think it should never have been published, 1 would mean it did the job of filling some time).

Observation: Maybe no-one else would notice but the back cover “this book is great” statement (they all have one after all) came from the Guardian’s cheif book review editor (or similar, i forget now and I don’t have the book with me) and inside the author review said she writes for a paper called the Guardian.

Tuesday's War (David Fiddimore)

I want to email this author and tell him he’s a bastard.

With my well known interest in all things aviation you could expect me to enjoy a book based around the times of a Lancaster bomber crew serving in World War 2. However, I would have loved this book if it had been set in a factory – it’s about the crew, their experiences, their relationships and the impact of one unusual woman on the crew. The detail of the lifestyle of the aircrew is complete down to an 8 berth hut with an inadequate coal burner for heat. The woman in question was called Grace, the name of the book comes from what the crew name their new bomber “Tuesdays Child” (from the poem with the lines “Tuesdays child is full of grace”). Grace does far more than influence the name of the bomber.

The book is superbly written, a joy to read and full of detail that makes the characters come to life. The ending itself was so well crafted if it were art it would be attributed to one of the great masters. Charlie Bassett, the radio operator who narrates us through the story, appears for one small chapter after at the end of the book many years after the war . Charlie says many things to close the story, though he never tells us what happens to Grace and although I think it’s hinted at, I really wanted it to be a clear and happy ending.

Yes, I want to tell this author he’s a bastard because I have a feeling other books will struggle to finish with the same standard of pleasure. I guess sometimes a vague ending is the best ending after all. Definately worth reading.

J'apprends Franais!

Mercredi soir, j’attendais Canterbury Christchurch University pour apprends franais. Depuis douze ans depuis j’apprends franais a l’cole. A l’cole j’tudie le “A/S”, peut tre un ‘demi baccalaurat’.

Pour moi, la grammar est difficile en anglais et en plus difficile en franais! Masculine/feminine, “tu ton tes” (je pense?). Maintenant je connais en plus de nouveau mot franais aprs seulement une semaine.

A l’cole, j’achte un livre “Jochim a des enuis” (peut tre “jochim es les enfant?”) – un livre pour les enfant je pense, mais pour moi c’tait trs difficile. Peut tre aprs mon tude (en douze semaine) je peux lire un autre livre franais.

J’espre cet est lisible pour tout person franais! Utilise la “comments” sil vous plat! (En franais aussi, pour aidez mon tudie).

Je trouve “Joachim a des ennuis” a amazon!

Addition deux!
Merci pour google “spellcheck”! Je voudrais le google “grammarcheck” aussi!

Plagiarism is the greatest form of flattery. I guess I've been flattered then?

It is said that “Plagiarism is the greatest form of flattery”. So in some ways I feel quite honored that some of the things I have written for my company website have been copied by other companies to use verbatim.

For little sections of text, a particular way of saying things perhaps, I can understand. There’s only so many ways you can say something after all. I’d say something like copying:

This is by far the most common type of worktop in the UK and comes in a range of standard colours

I would find not unreasonable.

Copying something clearly unique like

Worktops for your kitchen (bathroom, work shop and many other places too…) Worktop or countertop, whatever you call it it takes more punishment than many other parts of your kitchen. It also has to look good for a long time, no matter how many times the children cut their sandwiches without using a chopping board!

is pushing your luck. I caught a company using that extract form our website around 2001.

However, I have to take my hat off to an Italian company. The don’t just copy text, they copy with style: worktops:

XXXX srl in XXXXXXXX Italy

Number one for worktops

high quality for worktops

A manufacturing firm of furniture components is situated in XXXXXXXX (LE), it has been working since 1974.
It is qualified in planning and manufacturing worktops with backsplash covered with HPL laminate.
Laminate Worktops
What makes a good laminate worktop?

All the worktops sold by Roots are high quality, kitchen grade worktops. Not the cheapest available but designed for long life and long term good looks. Finishing touches such as a “hot melt seal” or “drip seal” repel water to stop spillages running along the base of the worktop and into your kitchen units.

That last paragraph looks awfully familiar…. yeah, they even copied the bit with our company name in it. That reminds me of a trip abroad when I was a teenager. People were always trying to sell you a “Genuine fake Rolex”.

I've done something amazing

i-4397a072cb905f3e4f2f795bb99ea47c-blooddonor10.jpg I’ve given blood 10 times. I’m not exactly a record breaking donor. I started giving blood when I was around 18 when the National Blood Service used to collect blood in the canteen. When I started the business it was always hard making the time. The last few years have seen me going more consistently.

The blood service also have a really useful web site. It allows you to book appointments and find out how your blood is used. The thing I find most interesting is the “Blood Stocks” page, which gives you up to date information on how much blood is in stock by number of units and more usefully how many days they think that stock will last. As I write this, there are 39,854 units of blood available in the country but only 0.6% (258 units) are in my blood group. Before I go and wrap my self in bublewrap and cotton wool, this will last about 5 days. They don’t have to have your blood group, some groups can take blood from other groups and all of this is explained on their web site.

I encourage you all to go and give blood at your local donor session.

Giving blood costs nothing and one day it may help someone you know. It may even help you. If you are nervous about giving blood feel free to give me a call and if I can I’ll go with you.

Jonathon Livingston Seagull (Richard Bach)

Some 15 years ago I read a book which I thoroughly enjoyed. Last month I saw it for sale in a book shop (still in print!) and I had to buy it for some friends for Christmas. I also had to read it again before I gave it to them and surprised myself just how much I remembered.

Jonathon Livingston Seagull is a story about a seagull called Jonathon Livingston. Jonathon isn’t like other seagulls who worry only about fighting for food. Jonathon loves flying. He loves it so much he dedicates himself to improving. This relatively short story (I think you could read it in an hour, perhaps two) is beautifully written, beautifully told and in my mind as significant a read for young people as “Of Mice and Men” (which we had to read in English lessons in secondary school). The story is simply inspiring. Jonathon Livingston Seagull is one of those books that if you mention it to one person, someone else nearby will probably join in with “Jonathon Livingston Seagull, fantastic story”.

The next day I had a text message from my friend “Gorgeous story, had to stay till 1 as couldn’t stop. Fab!” If I ever get these Rootie Ratings(tm) sorted, Jonathon Seagull will get top marks.

Life of Pi [Audio CD book] (Yann Martel)

When we drove to the south of France in the summer I prepared for a long, long drive. My brother lent me a book on CD, so I could listen as I drove. I’ve never been able to listen to books in the car before as I find the distances too short, I’m rarely in the car for more than an hour and that’s not enough time to get into the story. More than 10 hours in the car on the way through France however was perfect. It also got me an hour into the journey north at the end of the week too.

Life of Pi is a story of an Indian man, retelling a story of his youth (one of the nice things about the Audio CD was the accent of the narrator). His parents owned a zoo, they were moving to another country and the ship they were on sank. How interesting can a story be of a boy trapped on his own in a lifeboat? Ahh, I didn’t mention his friend “Richard Parker”. Richard happens to be a tiger, who also found himself on the lifeboat. It was a wonderful story, full of the unexpected and perhaps reason enough to travel to the south of France again (when else we I have that much time in the car). I find it hard writing about the books I’ve read as I don’t want to give away the story. This story is so unusual I can’t classify it as anything else other than a great read.

Interestingly while looking up the CD on Amazon for the image, Amazon recommended “The Time Travellers Wife” to go along with it. It seems my reading habits are predictable, I wonder if Amazon have a name for the type of books I’ve enjoyed reading? Maybe there are hundreds of other people out there liking and disliking exactly the same books.

Gold Mine (Wilbur Smith)

I was given this amongst a pile of other books and it’s taken me a while to get around to reading it. I think I chose this over some of the others simply because of the name. “Gold Mine” sounds a little industrial as if technology is going to get mentioned. It does, a good dose of geology and the gold mining process with a few adventures thrown in. I say few adventures because the story covers several key characters. The hero, and his rise to running the company. The hero’s lover, who happens to be the wife of the villain. The villain, who gradually develops into the villain from being simply powerful but strange. The other hero who saves the day but loses his life, The greedy villain(s) who cause the suffering of many due to their greed. I haven’t mentioned a handful of other characters that set the scene and who are as good and bad as you find in every day life. Having chose this book, I’d be quite comfortably choosing to read another Wilbur Smith novel.

Islands in the Sky (Arthur C. Clarke)

Boys all over the world dream of adventure. This story is the telling of an adventure for a boy who always wanted to go into space. Set in the future where there are space stations and colonies on other planets, young Roy wins a trip to a space station. Well written and entirely believable, this is a story that hasn’t aged a day since it was written (1954, a good read now as I’m sure it was then).